01.06.2011 ciprian isac
Few books can boast multiple editions stretching back over many decades. Maybe only the Bible has seen hundreds, even tens of thousands of new editions. In 1875, 31 years after it was first published, there were already over 100 editions of the book we're about to talk about in circulation. This book contains a collection of short moral tales for children told in verse. 
We don't know precisely how many languages it has been translated into or how many copies were printed. What's for sure is that it spread around the world. We begin the story of foreign illustrators with an author whose real name appears in full on the title page from as early as the fifth edition Dr. Heinrich Hoffmann signed the first few editions using the pseudonym Heinrich Kinderlieb (which translates approximately as fond of children), and you can sort of understand why he did this: he was neither an illustrator nor a book maker; in fact, he practiced a totally different profession.
Well known in many countries, though less so in Romania, the stories told in Struwwelpeter even have a story of their own. The first edition was published in Leipzig, probably in 1933, by Insel (one of the best known and oldest publishers in Germany), and it still looks good today. The paper (uncoated, of course) has a nice feel, has turned slightly yellow, albeit uniformly so, and the drawings are exquisite and beautifully coloured, not to mention extremely modern! 

The edition I found – Der Struwwelpeter in seiner ersten Gestalt [Struwwelpeter in his original form], Insel Bücherei Nr. 66 – retains the original idea and drawings. Below the author recounts the story of the book in a note at the end of the book:

Towards Christmas in the year 1844, when my eldest son was three years old, I went to town with the intention to buy as a present for him a picture book, which should be adapted to the little fellow's powers of comprehension. But what did I find? Long tales or boring collections of pictures, moral stories beginning and ending with admonitions like ‘the good child must be truthful’ or ‘children must keep clean’, etc. (...)

I was then, beside my practice at the lunatic asylum, also obliged to practice in town. Now it certainly is a difficult thing for a doctor to deal with little ones from 3 to 6 years old. For when they are in good health, the medical man and the chimney-sweep are used as a means of education. ‘Child, if you are naughty the chimney-sweep will carry you off' or ‘Child, if you eat too much, the doctor will come with his nasty medicine or use leeches on you’.The consequence is that the little angel, when ill, begins to scream, to struggle and kick as soon as the physician enters the room. For hours on end, the doctor is unable to calm the child. On such occasions a slip of paper and a pencil generally came to my assistance. Thus a story like those in the book is invented on the spur of the moment, illustrated with a few touches of the pencil and related in as lively a manner as possible. The little antagonist is calmed, his tears dried and the medical man can do his duty.It is in this manner that most of Struwwelpeter’s scenes originated; 

I created them out of what was at hand. Some of them were later inventions, the drawings sketched using the same pen and ink with which I originally wrote the verse, all instinctively and without the least intention on my part of literary fame. The book was bound, placed under the Christmas tree, and the effect on the boy was just what I expected. Most unexpected was the effect it had on grown-up friends who set eyes on the little book. I received requests from all sides to have it printed and published. At first I refused. It had not in my wildest dreams thought to become a children’s author and illustrator. I was pushed into it, however, almost against my will, while enjoying a quiet drink with someone who is now one of my publishers. So that’s how my modest work suddenly came out into the wide world and began its journey around the world and today, after 31 years, has reached itshundredth edition. As to translations, to date I have seen English, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Russian, French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese (for Brazil) versions.I should also mention the extraordinary success this little book also first had in Frankfurt itself. (...) 

You can see all the Struwwelpeter illustrations here gf archive
ciprian isacgraduated in graphic design (University of Art, Bucharest). He co-founded Atelierului de grafică in 2005. In 2010 he launched Graphicfront, a project among other things including the Graphics Without Computers series of books.
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Ovidiu Hrin

29.05.2011 la 16:12

Trebuie sa mentionez ca pana pe la varsta de 8 - 10 ani mi-a fost disciplina urmatoarea propozitie:"Auzi Tzutzule?? Tu chiar vrei sa ajungi ca si Struwwelpeter?" rostita de mama bineinteles. Cand deja venea cu cartea din sufragerie (pentru a-mi da reperul semiotic de la ora 17:00) eu ma spalam deja pe maini, find pieptanat din secunda 3. Functiona TOT TIMPUL :):):)

Multumesc pentru amintire ;).


Ion Imiste

01.06.2011 la 21:33

Eu mi-am pastrat particica. Dar parca nu-i asa de bine... sau cine stie, poate nu-mi dau eu seama....

S-auzim de bine.


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